Baker Drivetrain: Indian Larry Legacy Deified
by Buck Manning
photos courtesy Anthony “Scout” Underwood
You’ve seen this frame before–no, not one like it–but this actual frame. That is, if you’re one of the legions of Indian Larry fans who watched the Biker Build-Off tribute bike to the much missed Brooklyn builder coming together under the aegis of respectful builder friends. The TV shenanigans of a ten day build-off (taking absolutely nothing away from BBO builders facing an impossible time situation) were illustrated in the on-air scenes where Bert Baker of BAKER Drivetrain helped twist the Indian Larry-style downtube for the tribute bike. Needless to say, this was not the actual one used in the Love Zombie build, but done for television purposes. But fortunately, that piece of historical custom memorabilia didn’t end up being tossed aside. “A couple of months after they did the filming, that downtube came in the mail with a frame attached to it and so we felt obligated to finish the rest of the bike,” says Anthony “Scout” Underwood, self-proclaimed Brand Vandal and Director of Marketing for BAKER Drivetrain. The arrival of this frame fit in nicely with BAKER’s own annual bike build for the photo shoot they do for the company’s calendar and also for the boys in R&D to have something to experiment with. “It gets too political if we farmed out a build ’cause we can’t alienate our customers, so we do it ourselves,” says Scout. “We also do some R&D along the way and explored a few new product ideas of which a couple of them are going to market in the future. These projects are a great moral booster and truly enlighten our guys on what our customers have to experience as they build a bike.”
With the rolling chassis in place, it was time to choose a method of making it roll by itself. “We wanted somebody really close to tailor the motor how we wanted to see it, shovelhead-style with a lot of polished parts, and to work well with the new parts we were making in R&D,” says Scout. “Greg Gates (of Gates Performance Engineering Inc.), the mad scientist of the motor world, is literally a mile or two away and Bert wanted to use as many locals as he could.” Needless to say, it was a wise choice as Greg turned out a 106″ split rocker box beauty featuring his “Hi Squish” chamber cylinder heads with titanium valves and performance cam sitting on Axtell/Gates cylinders. Greg also modified an S&S G carb topped with a Goodson air cleaner and chose a Mallory ignition to light it off, eventually producing a very healthy 105hp and 117ft-lbs of torque at the rear wheel. The lads from R&D finished it with a wrapped exhaust and Larry’s trademark rear-mount oil filter. Being able to have a classic shovel look and not having to forsake high performance to get it, sure makes for a winning combo.
After placing the Gates mill in the frame, the R&D boys started installing the proto parts they’d been developing. “We were working on mid-controls, but that’s a larger project because it’s part of a proprietary belt drive that we’re still working on,” says Scout. This primary is connected to the obvious showpiece of this bike, the BAKER transmission which becomes a visual focal point for a number of reasons. This is where the fuel/oil tank comes into play. Having open space over the tranny allows BAKER to show off its new 6-into-4 kicker transmission and taking it a step further, R&D made a Lexan (often referred to as transparent aluminum) top cover to show off Bert’s pride and joy, and seeming reason to be, the internal guts of a tranny in all their constantly meshing glory. “We’ve got enough Lexan to sell clear top covers and that’s something we’ll have available soon,” says Scout. For more info on the 6-into-4 tranny and kicker cover check out the Up Close sidebar.
Local boy and custom legend Ron Finch was called upon for the gorgeous paintjob. “He’s a professional and great to work with. Historically, his paintjobs are just tremendous and they’re out there, but he worked with me,” says Scout. “It is a corporate bike and our color palette at BAKER is mostly black. We try not to get too wild and he respected that, but it still looks like a Ron Finch paintjob.” A set of 10″ baby apes on 2″ DBBP-Design risers completes the look and reaches back to a knockout Paul Cox Leather seat mounted on one of his comfy Rigidaire systems.
“We’re all a fan of the man. That’s why we called the bike I.L.L. Deified,” says Scout.